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Getting complex and technical information across

By Richard White – Master Trainer: Think on Your Feet®, Writing Dynamics™, The Skilled Presenter™ and Grammar on the Rocks™.


Communicating complex or technical information to an audience that has no special knowledge of the subject is always challenging. We recently helped the board of a large organisation to improve their efficiency by training their technical staff to communicate complex information in clear, structured, focused reports. The same principles can be applied to writing, presenting or just plain speaking. I’ve broken them down into what you can do before, during and after your communication.

Before you write or speak, ask yourself: “What key points and level of detail does this audience need?” In our Think on Your Feet® workshop we show you how to scan your audience’s background, hopes and fears to find what’s relevant to them and then use the identified themes as the basis of your communication.

The actual communication must use clear language and be clearly structured so that it flows for your audience. Notice how I’m using time to organise this article: before, during and after. I’ve used three stages because three is a simple, powerful way to structure your ideas. We take this a lot further in the Think on Your Feet® workshop.

After your communication you’ll want people to remember the key points. You can help them by putting pictures in their minds; do that by using concrete examples, stories or metaphors. One of my delegates wanted to explain in simple terms what it was like to manage a project. She said: “it’s like flying a helicopter – you hover over the project, you have to have a clear idea of where you’re heading and you adjust to circumstances as you go”. I’ve never forgotten it!

So, to communicate complex information you should anticipate your audience’s needs, structure your ideas and use memory tools to help them recall. That way everyone will benefit from your expertise.

Ensure people understand what you are trying to say:

More about Richard White
Richard White is a certified master trainer in Writing Dynamics™, Think on Your Feet®, The Skilled Presenter™ and Grammar on the Rocks™. He is also accredited to deliver Dr Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats®, Lateral Thinking™ and Power of Perception™.

He brings a wide range of practical business experience to his training. He has worked in a corporate environment as an engineer, before spending 15 years managing customer service, marketing and sales departments. He subsequently held a senior position on people development programmes in BT. His corporate career gave him both first-hand knowledge of day-to-day management issues and the opportunity to play a leading part in many cutting-edge projects.